There were about 25 people at the Bedminster Against the Cuts meeting about half of which haven’t been involved in the Anti-Cuts Alliance before. The meeting mainly discussed how the cuts would affect ordinary people in South Bristol. We also talked about some of the things we could do locally to to help fight the cuts which are mentioned later on. We had two speakers, Bob who works for Bristol City Council and Frankie who works for the NHS, both are Unison activists.
Bob highlighted some of the budget cuts that the council had voted on last week and what this would mean. This includes up to 1000 jobs lost over the next 4 years, cuts for services like Connexions, a careers service for young people, cuts to public transport and road maintainence, cuts for social care for the elderly and disabled, and many more.
Frankie spoke about how the government’s plans for the health service effectively mean that all that will remain of the NHS is the name. The proposals will lead to its privatisation which will mean profit is put before patient care which will suffer as a result. One part of the plans is to allow hospitals to make as much money as they want from private, paying patients which means that these people will be able to jump the queue and the rest of us will be left with a second rate service.
Most people in the meeting contributed to the discussion and there was wide agreement that the cuts are unnecessary and ordinary people shouldn’t have to pay the price for a crisis we didn’t cause. Some alternatives to cutting were outlined including collecting the £120billion in tax that is avoided each year, mainly by the super rich; getting money back off the bankers and taking back into public ownership the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts that are bleeding billions of taxpayers money, amongst others.
We also discussed how to fight the cuts. The main upcoming event is the TUC organised national demonstration which is in London on Sat 26th March.
We arranged some leafletting for this Saturday (5th) in order to build publicity for the demonstration. We are meeting up at 11am outside Cannon St post office in Bedminster, please let me know if you are able to make it.
Other things that were mentioned as ways of getting involved were to write letters to the local press, or call in to radio stations and argue that cuts weren’t necessary. Also getting involved in the Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance (www.bristolanticutsalliance.org.uk) which has open meetings on the first Monday of every month, this month at the Broadmead Baptist Church, Monday 7th March at 7pm. It was also mentioned that some people would be standing anti-cuts candidates in the local elections as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition which some people said they would be happy to support.
Finally it was agreed to organise the meetings about once a month and to try and focus the next one on planning more local activity. (Details to follow once a venue has been sorted).